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The Enlightenment and its discontents: Antinomies of Christianity, Islam and the calculative sciences

Tony Tinker (Baruch College at the City University of New York, New York, USA, the Department of Accounting, Glasgow‐Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK, and School of Accounting and Information Systems, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 1 July 2004



Capitalism, religion and science (including calculative sciences such as accounting) have a long and turbulent relationship that, today, is manifest in the “War on Terror”. As social ideologies, religion and science have played a sometimes decisive influence in the history of capitalism. What can one learn from these past encounters to better understand their relationship today? This paper explores the historical origins of this relationship as a struggle over the ideals of the Enlightenment: – as decline of the modern and the rise of the postmodern. The paper begins by tracing the evolution of Christianities and their different potentials in both resisting and accommodating the extant social order. Islam, in contrast, has,until recently, enjoyed a relatively sheltered existence from capitalism, and today, some factions present a militant stance against the market and the liberal democratic state. Overall, the Enlightenment and modernist projects are judged to be jeopardy – a condition fostered by orthodox economics and accounting ideology, where it is now de rigueur to divide the secular from the non‐secular, the normative from the positive, and the ethical from the pragmatic or realist. Finally, the mechanisms behind this Enlightenment regression are examined here using literary analysis, as a modest prelude to developing a new politics for a progressive accounting; one that seeks to restore the integrity and probity of the Enlightenment Ideal.



Tinker, T. (2004), "The Enlightenment and its discontents: Antinomies of Christianity, Islam and the calculative sciences", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 442-475.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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